LA CLERY, SAINT LUCIA – Saint Lucia showed their prowess over Antigua and Barbuda, by completing an uncomplicated 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25- 15) trumping in the gold medal match of the inaugural Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) Under-23 women’s Tournament, Sunday night at the Vide Boutielle Secondary School’s court.
Saint Lucia was charged for the occasion and put their skills set together of good serves, passing, setting and spiking and when it came to defence, also set up the human shields to thwart what Antigua and Barbuda threw at them.
The statistics manifested Saint Lucia’s control of the match , as Outside Hitter – Kerin Neptune racked up a tournament high 20 points, while Amika James , another Outside Hitter contributed 9.
For Antigua and Barbuda, three players- Outside Hitters in Morgan Halstead and Josanne Lewis and Middle Blocker- Tia Walker, all registered 5 points each.
Saint Lucia also outstripped Antigua and Barbuda 32-13 in Spikes, and 13-4 in service aces.
Saint Lucia’s Joseph Clercent, in his debut outing as coach of a national team and winning a title along the way, was obviously elated at the achievement.
“It is a good feeling for the first time as a coach and playing at home, it was a good experience for me …. I am really pleased the players went out and represented Saint Lucia”, Clercent said.
Still a national player with the Saint Lucia senior men’s team, Clercent said that served him well as a coach.
“Being a player still, I am one who likes to stick to the fundamentals and I used that in Reflecting on the tournament decider, Clercent believed that a pre- match team talk helped to spur his charges on to go all out for the gold medal.
“Before the match, I had a pep talk with them and told them it is now or never, as it made no sense winning the first three matches, and the most important match, you do not win…. I told them that they had to go out and give double what we have … Go out and blow out the game and that they did”, Clercent recalled.
But while Clercent was upbeat in his team’s success, coach of Antigua and Barbuda Fitzroy Benjamin, thought his players did not carry out the instructions given by him.
Benjamin said that it was he and the team’s ambition to win the gold medal, as they firmly believed they had what it took to do so.
Saint Lucia finished perfect winning all four matches, while Antigua and Barbuda won two matches, beating St Vincent and the Grenadines and the British Virgin Island, but lost both against St Lucia.
Meanwhile St Vincent and the Grenadines took the bronze medal by dispensing of the British Virgin Islands 3-0 (25-9, 25-18, 25-22) in the inaugural Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) Under-23 women’s Tournament, Sunday evening at the Vide Boutielle Secondary School’s court.
Alicia Glasgow was St Vincent and the Grenadines’ top scorer for the third successive time, as she tallied 16 points and Shernell Browne – Outside Hitter, registered 10 points. Shoniqua Fahie, an Outside Hitter was the British Virgin Islands lead scorer with 6 points.
St Vincent and the Grenadines led in spikes, 21-14, while topping in service aces 18-5.
Taking the consolation award was not the plan for St Vincent and the Grenadines’ coach – Nikita Campbell, but was contented with the bronze.
“Although we continue to have issues with the defensive side of our plan, the players did well in the circumstances as some were playing in their first tournament”, Campbell related.
“ Again it was a young team with most of them 16, 17 and 18 years of age, but they have learnt from taking part in this … It is for them now to continue to practice harder and more consistently so they can improve on their defensive part of their game as well as their passing”, Campbell said.
Meanwhile, head coach of the British Virgin Islands, Stephen Payne agreed that the tournament was a good gauge of what is needed in their territory to become more competitive.
“What this tournament has taught us is that our development programme back home must be more sustained, instead of just preparing for tournaments” Payne admitted.
Payne believes that his players should be better served from their participation in the tournament and once they stay with the sport would improve in all facets.
St Vincent and the Grenadines finished the tournament with a 2-2 win/loss ratio, while the British Virgin Islands was winless from their four matches.
PHOTO -: Saint Lucia Under-23 women celebrate their inaugural ECVA Women’s Under-23 championship tile (COURTESY www.norceca.net)